Next weekend: tips for a first timer?

Discussion in 'Steelhead Talk' started by Clayton, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. Clayton

    Clayton Fly guy

    OK, I'm a college student (and Buckeye :)) and this weekend I had the crazy idea to go steelhead fishing... I am an okay fly fisherman, and an excellent bass fisherman, and was wondering if I might be able to get into some steelhead.

    I was planning to use something like a mepps or a little cleo or some other sort of non-fly non-eggsack approach. I haven't got a noodle rod, and thanks to the wonderful economy lately I probably won't be buying one (and I KNOW I'll never convince my girlfriend to, and she's coming too). Is it possible to catch these fish on a bass rod? If I enjoy fishing for em, I'll probably stock up on gear, but I want to just hook in to one and see what I get.

    I've never done this before, and I have no idea where to go or how to fish it. Where can I go to get some public access fishing that isn't going to be INSANELY CROWDED? I just wanna get hooked up a few times and see what it's like. The GF is not as good of a fisherperson as I am, but she's got the touch sometimes... is it fairly easy to catch these fish if you fish thoroughly, or are they picky sometimes?

    Tell me everything that seems important :) Thanks in advance!
  2. Kastmaster93

    Kastmaster93 Cleveland based fisherman

    the middle of the coming week and beyond should be perfect for steelhead, as they should be flying up the rivers out of the lake, so, in that reguard, its your luck. the chagrin, rocky, and grand rivers as well as arcola creek are great spots that i go around northeast ohio, but im not sure where your located. as for baits and presentations, if your not going to use egg sacks then ya, little cleos and other spoon/spinner setup is a pretty good bet. also, maggots under a skinny-long bobber with a few split shot-while it is not a very original way to catch them-is very effective for me, with a mini foo jig as the hook. egg sacks are also effective fished in this way. now, i dont use a noodle rod, as i feel im fone with my 7 1/2' rod which, although without as much "give" as a long noodle rod, still has been productive for me. i rarely feel too much of a difference when i have a shorter rod, so as long as you have a rod thats decent in length you should be fine (although it may be a tiny bit more challenging). sometimes the fish are sporadic, but wherever your going try to check with others about the reports/stream flow/etc. and you will be OK. as long as the conditions arent horrible one way or another, you might as well give it a shot and chances are you'll hook up with some chrome. well, thats all i got, good luck and make sure to ask with any more questions you have. good luck, im positive you will be HOOKED (pun intended) after your first steelhead.

  3. With the gear you are going with, I would try a pier or a breakwall. Depending how nice the weekend is, there may or may not be "crowds". A lot of guys will be in the rivers and not "chucking" spoons on any of the piers/breakwalls.

    Try the shortpier or the long wall at Fairport Harbor. Look up previous posts for directions. They have been posted before. With the gear/tackle you have and what you are throwing, that'll be a good place to start. Its an easy walk to both locations and the GF should be fine with that. I'll tell you that the long wall has some larger rocks to contend with but its definately manageable.

    If your only throwing lures, the only other item you'll need is a long handled net and a camera!

    Hope that helps! Good luck and let us know how you do!
  4. Pymybob gave some good advice, but IMO the breakwalls won't be fishable the rest of the fall. Usually when the water turns nasty like this, the near shore waters are mud all the time.
  5. Clayton

    Clayton Fly guy

    I'm located in Central Ohio (Hilliard to be exact).

    My gf is way, way outdoorsy... she hunts, camps, hikes, fishes, the whole deal :) so don't shy away from suggesting the kind of spots you bush-whack to lol. She's awesome lol. But yeah, I just want to catch some fish, and I've seen some of the pretty, clear water photos, and I like em :D

    Are they as hard to fly-catch as everyone rambles on about them being in magazines, or is that a lot of fluff? I've done alright fly fishing before, and fished in Oatka Creek in NY (clearest water I've ever even seen) and managed to convince trout that I'm worth eating for, so I guess I'm okay :) Not perfect by any stretch, but I think I can pull it off.

    Only question there is: Is a 5 wt rod appropriate? And what kind of flies are good? I have huge steelhead/bass streamers, but I don't know if those catch fish or fishermen :)
  6. a 5wt will land steelhead despite what many will tell you....however, I personally wouldnt target steelies with one unless it was a 10.5ft 5wt. throwing a big indicator or a streamer with a 5 gets tiresome and without good technique you will lose many fish(but that happens anyway). a 6-8wt is easier. also, remember steelhead are just big stupid trout wich is why they are awesome, just keep it simple. you dont need a 5/8once cleo in this single color, they are eating shad and shiners, throw a rattletrap, bass techniques work wonders on trout stick to what your comfortable with. a longer lighter bass rod is your best option, spool up with 6-10lb. for your gf put some egg flies under a bobber and rig it in the same fashion a pin fisherman rigs a float, my younger brother caught his first steely with this rig last weekend, and he's clueless. goodluck and you will enjoy them

    ps, you ask about how hard they are to catch. all truly popular sportfish(crappie, erie walleye, steelies, largemouth) have two things in common, easy access and easy to catch. they wouldnt be popular if the average guy couldnt get them with a fly rod;) they are a great fish to learn how to fly fish on, you hook lots and land a few
  7. Clayton

    Clayton Fly guy

    Hmmmmm, about long, limber bass rods... :( I definitely use a 6.5 ft IM-8 spinning rod. It's anything but limber haha... I wonder how much a 7-8 ft rod with the right floppiness might cost me?

    Also, does anyone know if there is anywhere to camp up there? I just heard on the news that you guys had 16" of snow in the northeast!! Sounds like crap-ola for campers lol. I figure if the camping can't happen, we could just hit a hotel... I like hotels more when the weather is terribly inclement, but camping is nice sometimes. Any ideas?
  8. I bought my Okuma noodle rod for $40 and love it. There are rods cheaper then this that are just as nice. If you wanted to stop at a local shop up here you could probably pick one up very cheap. The Rodmakers Shop in strongsville would be able to set you up with whatever you need.
  9. a 7ft+ baitcasting rod, slow action like a crankbait series would work well if spooled up light. you dont need a spinning rod, its just easier to work with, but if you plan on tossing spoons or cranks(swimbaits dont work....;) ) bring a baitcaster.
    cabelas and browning and several other companies, apparently okuma, carry "low end" 8.5-9ft steelhead rods that you can find for under $70, they are a great investment if you plan on spinfishing steelies and double up as good rods for skipping senkos:)
  10. symba

    symba Kayak Conquistador

    Gander Mtn has (or had) their 9' Medium Light Advantage Steelhead rods for $30. Not my primary rod, but a good backup and deal for $30.
  11. Clayton

    Clayton Fly guy

    30 dollars does NOT sound like any stretch of my wallet, that's for sure :) i could just swap out the reel from my bass rod (Shimano sonora 1500) and use the second spool with 8 lb test (I typically use 30 lb braid for most applications, and it saves a FORTUNE on lost lures!).

    What are the odds of just waltzing up to a river, fishing for a few hours, and actually hooking into some fish? Essentially I'll be fishing them the way I would bass, or with little tiny jigs... I'm no pro, that's for sure :p Any chance I'd have enough luck to make it worth the 3 hours? I had originally intended to go at it pretty hard for a day or two, but as always my GF and I do not see eye to eye on how much time should be spent fishing vs hiking.

    Again, anyone know of anywhere to camp on the cheap?

    Thanks for all the help!!

    KSUFLASH respect our rivers please

    Every year around this time and even more so when it gets closer to steelheading, I read alot of posts in regards to steelheading and those whom are beginners. Lots of questions from gear, to presentations, to water clarity, to where, etc...

    I figured I would throw out my experiences, and try to explain all this steelhead in a manner of which someone as a beginner could understand. Heck I am no pro, but I certainly remember being a beginner and not catching a thing and thinking these steelhead are tough to catch. Quite the contrary actually. With a little knowledge you can get into some steelhead and have a fun day on the water.

    From my experience with steelheading, I hope I am able to shed some light on this with my fellow beginners. Everyone has been there before.

    So here it goes.....


    Leave the normal bass and panfish rods in the garage. You need a Noodle rod. Well you don't really need one, but if you want a better chance at actually catching a steelhead you do in fact get a better shot at them with a noodle rod.

    Whats a noodle rod? It's a long rod, something about 9-12ft long, that serves multiple purposes.

    1. When you get a hit, the fish takes off fairly fast and the long rod is a shock absorber per say and takes alot of stress off your line during that initial run.

    2. Long rods allow you to keep alot of line off the water as you want as little line on the water as possible. The moving water in the rivers makes a loop in your line on the water, hence making your bobber move faster than it should be going.

    So get a noodle rod. You don't have to have a top dollar one either. I spent $30 on a 10' Rapala Noodle rod. Works great.


    I recommend a good reel with a nice smooth drag. I prefer the drag on the spool rather than the ones on the butt of the reel. Just my personal preference.

    You may ask why should I have a decent reel. Simple!!! Think of this...Tie your line to the back of a sport bike, then have the sport bike take off like a rocket. If you don't have a smooth drag, your going to snap your line.

    You are going to have to play steelhead a bit and they may make several runs on you, jumping and thrashing about...This is why we all fish for them. They are exciting to catch.

    Spend your money on the reel!!!!


    This is up for debate, and there are many differant opinions. Here is my recommendation and why.

    I use 8lb main line and then carry multiple florocarbon spools for the leader with me. Some people use 6lb main line...Guess it is personal preference, as well as water clarity...I will get to water in a bit.

    Why florocarbon??? Very simple, florocarbon is near invisible in the water, hence the steelhead isn't spooked. Use lighter floro in clear water, use heavy floro in muddy water.

    I have tried without floro completely, but my catch rate went way up with it. As a beginner my hurdle was how to tie flororcarbon onto my main line. Once you get it down its no big deal. Just practice.

    If you catch 20 steelhead in a day your line in my opinion is shot. So I change mine often.


    If your going to fish the rivers you need it. If your going to fish off the break walls it isn't needed but it sure is nice to not have to cary something when you can wear your tackle box.


    Alot of places you won't need a net, but alot of places you will. If you fish where others are, most likely they will have one.

    I have to admit a funny story about my beginner net.....Ok so when I first started out, I took my net....well it looked like a net that trout fisherman used for those precious fish in the streams out West. HAHAHA!!!! those nets are quite a bit small for the bigger strain of fish we have here in the Northeast....I was laughed at when I brought it with me. After seeing someone get a steelhead, I threw the net in the back of the truck and never brought that one with me again...haha...Lessons learned I guess.


    U need them if your fishing in the rivers, if your on the breakwalls you can leave them at home. Boot fit or sock fit....thats personal preference. Here is a little more info about the boots on the waders. Felt pads on the bottom of the waders are great for when your in the water and walking on rocks...When you get out of the water with felt pads, the mud gets in the felt and you walking on ice....Some boots have studs and felt, I would recommend those, but waders aren't a neccesity to get into steelhead.


    I could go on forever here, but I am going to keep it simple. Early season is a jig and maggot combo. Clear water use blacks, in murky water use bright color jigs. Mini-Foos are top choice by alot of anglers. I tie my own so I can customize what I want to present.

    There is also the spawn sack but in the early season I suggest the easy jig and maggot combo.

    WHERE TO FISH!!!!!!!!!

    This is a hot topic!!!! As a beginner I learned more of what to do and not to do by fishing the places that are on the map as public access on the ODNR site.

    Early season your going to begin hearing about reports of fish being caught at the mouth of the rivers. This is one of the best times to learn. You can go up there in jeans and a sweatshirt and toss in a line. Later in the season the fish move into the rivers and wait for spring to spawn.

    Those whom do their homework and go walking the rivers and finding the holes now, will reap benefits later.

    It is a respect thing I guess....I work hard to find new spots that are not always gone to much, if I get 20 steelhead there I would be sad if I told someone and they told the entire world....hence you won't hear much about honeyholes, but if you get in with some steelheader and they take you under their wing, you will begin to see what I am talking about.

    If someone takes me to a hole, it isn't fair for me to tell someone else, as I wouldn't want that done to me....

    Ok enought of that rant....

    Get the maps on the ODNR site for steelhead access and get out there...

    WATER FLOW!!!!!!!!

    If it is raging water you can stay at home. Us steelheaders watch the water gauge's and determine which river is best to fish that day...this takes time to learn.

    If you ask online what river would be good to fish that day, you will get your info from others of us that watch that type of thing....


    Ladies and Gents, this is where you either get or don't get fish!!!!!!!!!!!

    In my opinion, being in the right spot and not presenting the bait properly is what the issue is for lots of beginners.

    If your in the river, the bait has to be just above the bottom of the river. If your bobber isn't set properly, then it doesn't matter how many fish are in the hole, you aren't going to get them...Put the bait where the fish's lips are and they will eventually hit it.

    If your at the mouth of the river, I like to set my bobber so the bait is about 5' down then adjust from there. Others like to cast spoons, but I prefer the bobber method.

    If your getting stuck on the bottom, then you need to fish shallower, if you never get stuck on the bottom then you need to fish a touch bit deeper.

    If your bobber is set correct and near the bottom and you get no bites, change color and try again. If that doesn't work you can change locations.

    Ok enough of my babbling for the moment.......I will post more thoughts a bit later.


    10/16/2007 Update!!!

    It has been some time that I have added any content to this post. So as I sit here thinking about it at work, and it is a slow day. I thought I would attempt to share some more info with those of you whom care to listen.

    I have gotten some really good questions over the past several months leading up to the fall steelheading season. I am going to attempt to answer them.

    I am going to focus on how to fish for the chromers this time, rather than what you need to have in regards to equipment.

    Early season wall fishing is differant than in the river float fishing. I will explain below.

    Fishing the mouths of the rivers either via the break walls or wading into the Erie Shores is differant due to a few things. First and foremost, the fish at the mouth of the rivers are staging. They are basically hanging out waiting for a good rain to trigger them to begin their journey up the rivers current. Hence the majority of fish I have caught at the mouths of the rivers are from 5ft down to almost the surface of the water. This is much differant than when the fish are in the rivers. When the fish are in the rivers, they relate to the bottom of the river. So you need to get your baits down in front of their face.

    The easiest way I can put it is, the Mouth of the rivers you fish from about 5-6' down, and then adjust up from there. In the rivers, you need to always be checking your floats to ensure yout presentation is down towards the bottom.

    Breakwall fishing is the best opportunity for those beginning to get into catching steelhead. Simple fact is that you can cast spoons, inline spinners, or jig/maggot combinations and have very good success in getting on fish.

    As with anything else, there is that "YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE YESTERDAY" I have seen it where the fish are hitting quite well, and then the next day they seem to have dissappeared. As of lately fish have been biting better during the later evening, than in the early morning. You just have to watch the reports and make your best guess.

    Ok so when casting spoons, I cast out, count to about 5, then begin reeling in at a normal steady pace. It is easy to loose your attention and begin day dreaming and looking at the scenery. Thats usually when you get a hit!!!

    Did you check your drag? You should have, and it should be tight enough that when setting the hook that you hear a little pop of drag, but not too loose that you wouldn't get a good hookset.

    Inline spinners are the same. I would recommend getting some decone 3/4 or 1/2 ounce sized spoons and spinners. They allow you to cast out a ways, and they get down in the water colomn nice.

    There isn't a whole lot I can say about what you do when you get a hookup!!!

    All I can say is check your drag even after the hookup. If you need to loosen it, do it fast. Steelies run fast and can snap you off in a New York Minute.

    A few last comments about Breakwall fishing. The mud line, the waves, the others around you.

    Depending on the day, you can be at the breakwalls with no waves, or waves 7ft or bigger. I suggest fishing outside of the mudline. If the water is all muddied up, you need to find clearer water. Your success rate will be higher if the fish can actully see your spoon/spinners in the water. If by chance your neighbor gets a hookup. You need to reel your stuff in quickly. Or let me need to reel your stuff in IMMEDIATLEY....the steelies may run right, left, in, or straight out. But I can tell you whatever way they run, it's gonna be in a heartbeat. I have seen it so many times that others don't reel in, then all of a sudden I got 2 others fishermans line tangled into my fish, and then my fish breaks off. Be kind to others so they will be kind to you. Reel your stuff in and enjoy watching how others catch the steelies so that you may learn how to yourself.

    Ok enough about break walls. Long story short. Go to walls, cast spoons and spinners. Get hooked up. Enjoy the fight of the great steelhead.

    Below are some pics of spinners and spoons I use.



    I have been reading alot of posts lately about some of our newest steelhead fisherman hunting for their first steelhead, and not having alot of luck. I would like to help all of you out by giving some more tips and tricks to you all.

    Lets face it....we are now in full swing winter....the river temps are now down to the point that anything that swims is gonna be lethargic to say the least. Below are some tips to hopefully help you in your search for steelhead.

    1. Now more than ever the saying "90% of the fish are in 10% of the rivers" holds true. If you not catching fish, your either in the wrong spot or read tip #2

    2. Tis the season to put the bait on the tip of the steelheads nose. No really, you need to make sure your bait is either bouncing off bottom or within about 6" of the bottom. Steelhead don't tend to chase after your offering this time of year. They usually only bite on those baits that are presented on the tip of their nose.

    3. Check the web for the flow gauge readings prior to departing for your local stream. If you don't know what the optimal readings are, you need to find them out. Both flow and clarity are key to having any chance at a successful day of steelhead fishing. For example, I fish the Chagrin. Flow at 300cfs and I am going to fish a certain stretch, 250cfs I will fish another, and anything above 350cfs I prefer to head to another river.

    4. Jig/maggot or spawn????? This question gets asked alot. Both what to use and how to use them......Here are some tips for you on the topic.....If you don't have FRESH spawn, when I say fresh, I don't mean store bought from those little jars at Gander or Dicks, then your wasting your time with spawn...You need to get eggs from either a fresh fish, or get them from sometwhere like Erie Outfitters that gets fresh spawn in.....If you have no access to fresh spawn, you need to use jig/maggot....

    I see alot of posts asking what color of jig.....thats like asking what color to use when bass fishing or crappie fishing....everyone has their go to color that they have confidence in, but that doesn't mean the fish will hit it that day. You need a variety of jigs in differant colors.....switch up the color every 15 minutes if you get no hits. The maggots you put on are just for scent....Hence when the maggots look faded, put on fresh maggots.

    5. It doesn't matter if you use jig/maggot or spawn sacks....If your not in the right spot or your not fishing the right depth, refer back to Tip #2.

    6. Some have asked how you know how deep to fish.....You need be approx. 6" or closer to the bottom of the river bed....How do you know how deep that is??? You NEED a float with a stem on the top of it....NOT a float that is styrafoam with the lead weight....You are going to need to learn what that stem is telling you as it is drifting down the river....I will give you some pointers.

    A. If the stem of your float is pointed downstream...a.k.a. It is pointed in the direction of the current.....You presentation is dragging the bottom of the river bed. "You float is set too deep"

    B. If the stem of your float is pointed upstream....a.k.a. It is pointed opposite the direction of the flow....Your presentation is leading your float...."This can be both good and bad depending on how your fishing" I suggest you adjust the ammount of weight you have approx. 12" from your presentation...making it heavier, hence putting the presentation closer to the bottom of the river bed.

    C. If the sem of your float appears to be pointed straight up/down....your presentation isn't on the bottom of the river bed. Now realize that the river bottom is ever changing...lots of humps, pockets, holes, etc....So as your bait floats it may tick the bottom every once in a while of which you can tell by that stem on your float.....

    The trick to getting the right float height takes practice. You should be adjusting your float every single cast until such time that you are convinced that your bait is somewhere around 6" to just on bottom. If you don't care to do this, then stay home your wasting your time.....

    Watch how deep others are fishing and start there. Other tactic is to start by adjusting your float about 4' deep, cast upstream and that float...what is it doing...if the stem is pointed downstream, then your too deep...if not, adjust your float.

    Learning exactly what your float is telling you is key and what you should focus on. If you don't know where your bait is in the water column, then your not going to catch fish.

    7. How to tie and use spawn sacks.....There has been many questions about spawn and what it is all about....There are differant types of eggs that we tie up into tiny sized sacks...

    A. Steelhead
    B. Brown Trout
    C. King Salmon

    Each egg looks a bit differant and in many cases is a differant size egg. Some Eggs are singular and others are bulked together by connective tissue. Then there is the cure vs. each their own....If you get your hands on spawn that is fresh or freshly cured, your much better off than the clear jars of it from the store.

    I have had the best luck with spawn sacks tied up pretty small with single eggs. I put 3 eggs into 1 sack and use a small size 10 egg hook.

    Colors of mesh for the spawn sack have been questioned. Each person has their go to color. The fish change their mood so have 3 basic colors tied up. White, Pink, and Floro Green has been my choices.

    8. So the keys to success are location, depth of presentation, fresh spawn or jig/maggot.

    9. How to find the right spot to fish? You need to see if you can hookup with someone that knows of some fishing holes that are holding fish....As unless you know where they are holding your wasting your time, or you can do some research and find the public access spots to the river you wish to fish, go to it and learn from those that are fishing there, but the better option in the long run is to try and do some scouting in the spring/summer time and wade the rivers and find some nice holes that can produce in the winter.

    Trying to get hooked up with steelhead in the winter is hard in itself due to their temperment. Not having confidence in your location doesn't help the matter, nor does not knowing how deep to fish, not knowing how to read that float, not having fresh spawn, etc.....
  13. KSUFlash,
    Great to see you back on here posting again, and sharing such detailed info. I thought it was a real blow to this forum to lose your K.I.S.S. sticky thread. It seems like every few days on here someone new is asking "How do I catch a steelhead?", and your KISS thread would have been of great assistance to the steelhead newbies. I'm sure that many an OGF member benefitted greatly from that thread that you put so much time into, and I hope to see it as a 'sticky' again so that more may benefit now and in the future.